Objective: To assess the effect of antiviral therapy for hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after radical hepatectomy. Methods: A total of 478 HBV-related HCC patients treated by radical hepatectomy were retrospectively collected. Patients in the treatment group (n=141) received postoperative lamivudine treatment (100 mg/d), whereas patients in the control group (n=337) did not. Recurrence-free survival (RFS) rates, overall survival (OS) rates, treatments for recurrent HCC and cause of death were compared between the two groups. Propensity score matching (PSM) analysis was also conducted to reduce confounding bias between the two groups. Results: The 1-, 3-, and 5-year RFS rates didn't significantly differ between the two groups (P=0.778); however, the 1-, 3-, and 5-year OS rates in the treatment group were significantly higher than those in the control group (P=0.002). Similar results were observed in the matched data. Subgroup analysis showed that antiviral treatment conferred a significant survival benefit for Barcelona Clinical Liver Cancer stage A/B patients. Following HCC recurrence, more people in the treatment group were able to choose curative treatments than those in the control group (P=0.031). For cause of death, fewer people in the treatment group died of liver failure than those in the control group (P=0.041). Conclusion: Postoperative antiviral therapy increases chances of receiving curative treatments for recurrent HCC and prevents death because of liver failure, thereby significantly prolonging OS, especially in early- or intermedian-stage tumors.